There are new hemp laws in Texas, but they are already causing problems.
The new hemp laws in Texas are causing confusion all around the state. Hemp is now legal throughout the Lone Star State, but marijuana remains illegal. This is causing a problem for law enforcement and prosecutors, as they struggle to find a way to ensure people are not being accused of crimes they did not commit yet ensure that those committing offenses are still prosecuted. So, what is the problem? What is the actual law on hemp in Texas?
New Laws on Hemp in Texas
When Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 in June of 2019, he legalized hemp products across the state. The law now allows hemp products, and products that are derived from hemp, such as CBD oil, to be sold and cultivated across the state.
With the new law, the definition of marijuana was also changed. Now there is a distinction between products that contain the legal limit of 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, and those that contain higher levels. Any product with a THC content less than 0.3% is now considered legal hemp.
Issues with the New Laws
While government officials were eager to pass the new law in order to help the agricultural sector, the prosecution is running into problems. They must test the THC content of a certain product in order to determine if someone has broken the law. Unfortunately, they do not yet have the technology to do it.
The problem with this lack of technology is that prosecutors may not be able to properly determine how much THC content a product has. They may choose to assume that something has a higher THC limit than what the law allows, and thereby charge and even possibly convict the wrong person.
This has been a particular concern since July 18, when the Governor sent a letter to state attorneys warning that the new hemp laws did not decriminalize marijuana. He also stated that he expected marijuana prosecutions to proceed as usual.
The state does have plans to purchase the testing machines, although with training forensic technicians, it will still take at least one year before regular testing can begin. The problem with this is that in the meantime, innocent people could be charged or even spend time in jail while waiting for results. The best-case scenario is for Texas to get these machines as quickly as possible, as hemp production will not start until next year. If there are not any machines by that time, it will pose a real problem.
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